Mourinho backs Lukaku after costly miss

Jose Mourinho insists Romelu Lukaku is not to blame for Manchester United failing to take three points from its trip to Stoke.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho congratulates Romelu Lukaku.   -  Getty Images

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho praised Romelu Lukaku's all-round performance against Stoke City despite the striker squandering a golden chance to snatch victory in Saturday's 2-2 draw.

With scores level in the 81st minute, Lukaku gave the host a reprieve when he turned Antonio Valencia's cross over the bar from point-blank range.

The 24-year-old had earlier fired the visitor into a 2-1 lead, only for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to quickly restore parity from a corner for his second of the match.

Lukaku's second-half strike boosted his tally to four goals from four Premier League matches, with Mourinho insisting the Belgian's overall package consists of more than just hitting the scoresheet.

"I am happy with Lukaku with or without goals because his contribution is good," said Mourinho. "With one more goal we win 3-2 but without the mistake at the corner we win 2-1 and Lukaku's miss does not matter."

Stoke's equaliser came just moments after David de Gea brilliantly denied fellow Spaniard Jese Rodriguez, with Phil Jones culpable for failing to track Choupo-Moting on the resultant corner.

Mourinho bemoaned the costly lapse for denying United a fourth straight league win. "That was a great save by De Gea, probably the only one he did because in the first half there was only a couple of very slow shots by [Xherdan] Shaqiri," he said.

"After that we could not protect the corner and he was punished. We were punished."